Kelvin Doe found that batteries were too expensive for a project he was working on in 2009. He used acid, soda, and metal parts that he found in trash bins in his neighborhood to build his own battery. Doe, then a 13-year-old from Sierra Leone, constructed a generator to light his home and operate an FM radio station that he built. He now employs his friends at the radio station.
The growing militancy of middle class citizens in developing countries is very much in the news these days; and there is a corresponding attempt to understand why so many protest movements in developing countries are now being led by hitherto quiescent middle classes. I have particularly enjoyed analyses by Francis Fukuyama in the Wall Street Journal, President Lula of Brazil in the New York Times and James Surowiecki in the New Yorker. The humble contribution I’d like to make (from my personal experience) is this. To understand the growing anger of middle class citizens in developing countries you have to understand two aspects of the conditions under which they live: the merely bit and the barely bit.
Let’s begin with the merely bit; that is, why in many of these countries when you are merely middle-class you have a problem. To grasp why being merely middle class is a tough situation to be in you have to understand what those they aspire to be like (the well to do in their societies) are able to provide for themselves. Before I left Nigeria in the middle 1990s, the wife of one of our leading politicians came up with the following insight: that to be comfortable you had to become your own local government. And she was right. Here are the things that your local government should provide and it did not and so you had to provide these things for yourself:
The economic liberalization during the last couple of decades led to impressive economic growth and poverty reduction in many developing countries. This period has also witnessed worsening of income inequality and widening of spatial disparity (World Development Report (2009); Kanbur and Venables (2005); Kim (2008)). There is considerable worry among policy makers about the extent to which this rise in spatial inequality is due to increasing disparity in opportunities in terms of provision of basic infrastructure and services. The recent growth and poverty reduction experience places Bangladesh as an exception to this trend of increasing spatial inequality. Bangladesh made significant strides in poverty reduction between 2000 and 2010 with incidence of poverty falling from 48.9 percent to 31.5 percent. During the same period, the incidence of poverty declined more than proportionately in traditionally poorer regions, reducing welfare gaps across regions. There is also no evidence of significant change in overall inequality over the same period. What made spatial disparity in Bangladesh to decline while its economic growth accelerated substantially? What were the sources of decline in spatial disparity in welfare?
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Mediatwits #89: Google Glass: Revolutionizing News or Public Annoyance?
“Google Glass could have a transformative effect on journalism, especially as we watch Tim Pool from VICE use Google Glass to report on Turkish protests. But it’s important to examine the shortfalls as well as all the great new advancements, both real and prophesied. Special guests Rackspace’s Robert Scoble, Veterans United’s Sarah Hill, CUNY’s Jeff Jarvis and USC Annenberg’s Robert Hernandez, all early adopters of Google Glass as well as social media and journalism experts, will talk about their experiences with the device and what they see as its strengths and weaknesses for its potential future in journalism. MediaShift’s Mark Glaser hosts, along with Ana Marie Cox from the Guardian and Andrew Lih from American University.” READ MORE
SME connectors can boost the supply chains of apparel, and other industries (Credit: India Kangaroo, Flickr Creative Commons)
This is the second post in the “Supply Chain Junkie" series, which gives personal insights on supply chains- -the “new normal" of doing business that is currently being prioritized by IFC.
Fashion is about constant change and that holds true for the business strategies of apparel Global Value Chains (GVCs) in response to customer preferences and global developments. The global economic crisis has played a major role in the biggest changes to the operational model of these chains, forcing them to cut costs by further consolidating their operations through long-term strategic decisions on supplier countries and supplier firms.
In recent years, Media & Information Literacy (MIL) has been increasingly recognized as a critical element in good governance and accountability. This is partly due to the rapid growth in technologies, which has contributed to a changing media landscape and new forms of citizen engagement. To thrive in this environment, citizens need the critical abilities and communicative skills to effectively access, analyze, and evaluate information. These skills will help citizens make informed decisions and form opinions that can impact their daily lives and the communities they live in, as well as minimize risks associated with the very same technologies, such as security, safety, and privacy. With its empowering effect, MIL can foster a citizenry capable and aspired to demand better services, hold leaders accountable and engage as active stakeholders in governance reform. Yet, MIL has struggled to gain the momentum needed to become part of the development agenda. However, this might be about to change.
When I met Juliette Cadavid, I was immediately impressed with her energy and her smile. I was in Pereira, in the coffee zone of Colombia, filming a video on the mass transportation system of the city, Megabus, supported by a World Bank project.
But when Juliette told me her story, how she was the only woman to drive one of the larger buses (articulados) of the Megabus system (she says there are two more women driving smaller buses), how her career in the public transportation world started and how she carried on with faith and work till she landed a job in an urban transportation system, I told myself that this was a story I wanted to share.
With her urge to achieve her goals, she reminded me of the documentary Girl Rising, and how women face challenges in a world of men, but with the hope that they can overcome them.
As World Bank reports show, women have been key to poverty reduction in Latin America: more than 70 million of them joined the labor force in the last 20 years, and their income, on its own, has reduced extreme poverty by 30%. But there are still many barriers and inequalities concerning the type of work, or salary.
Juliette is one of these women who have been able to overcome challenges and stereotypes, and has managed to make her dream come true.
Listen to her story:
New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.
This week's Media (R)evolutions: World Map of Social Networks
Facebook is now the dominant social network in 127 out of 137 countries.
Diversification of a country’s exports – increasing both the number of products it produces and the destinations of those products – is considered part of the path to development. Many economists and policy-makers see export diversification as an important means for increasing employment and speeding growth. Diversification also makes growth more stable, as it provides protection against shocks; a country that exports many products will not be hit so hard when the price of one falls, and similarly, a nation that exports to a wide variety of destinations will be shielded against a recession in one of them.
But new evidence contributes to a body of work suggesting that countries with an abundance of natural resources might be more prone to export concentration during spurts of high natural-resource prices – mainly in products, but also to a milder extent in trading partners – leaving them more vulnerable to price swings.
|Two members of the Black and White club join an arm-wrestling competition with the slogan 'Arm-wrestling to blow away corruption' at a youth event in Hanoi in November 2012 to promote fair education environment.|
I often hear that corruption is everywhere and nothing can be done about it. I used to believe it. I still hear people saying the work on anticorruption is a waste of time. I disregard these cynical statements now. Who made me change my attitude? The youth.
I started being inspired several years ago when a group of young women from the Vietnamese NGO Live and Learn (L&L) developed the idea of ‘a sustainable and transparent society in the hands of youth’. As clear as the idea tells, these young women wanted to engage more with youth, educate them about sustainable and transparent development and how young people can become catalysts for change and for a less corruption-prone country. The idea was among winning initiatives of the Vietnam Innovation Day (VID) 2009 More Transparency and Accountability, Less Corruption, which was co-organized by the World Bank and the Government Inspectorate.
As part of the project idea, L&L would help connect and create a network of student and youth groups (Green Generation network, volunteer clubs, youth organizations, Be Change Agents, etc.) in Hanoi. These groups would be more informed of development issues such as sustainable development, corruption, and their responsibilities, and eventually would act together to build a corruption-free society. The journey was not without difficulties. During the first six months of the project, L&L was not able to get into many universities to talk with students about transparency nor integrity, let alone corruption. Even if universities were open to the idea, not many students showed interest. Some events attracted only 8 young people.